DIY Rain Chains
SO WHAT IS A RAIN CHAIN ANYWAY?
So what is a rain chain anyway? Rain chains were first used in commercial buildings and modern houses to get rid of the need for downpipes connected to roof gutters. Instead of the rain water being channelled down a sometimes ugly-looking downpipe, the rain runs off the roof into a gutter and then runs down a chain to the ground where it flows onto the ground into a storm water drain or into the ground, garden bed, pond or water feature. We landscapers love the fact that something drab and boring like a downpipe can become a beautiful garden feature!
The DIY movement got a hold of the idea and took rain chains to a whole new level of cool and fun to make.
Rain chains are beneficial because they actually slow the flow of the water down as it has to bump and trickle down the grooves of the chain links and objects, and this then prevents soil erosion when it runs into the ground as the flow is slower. They also create a subtle amount of white noise like a water feature and help to ionise the air around them which is beneficial to us, animals and plants.
So, let’s have a look at some fun ideas to make your own rain chain for your home or garden. You can attach them to any roof you have, or replace some of your downpipes with them, or attach them to a roof that needs more run-off. Make sure you have a tape measure, step ladder, gloves, socket wrench, drill, chain and links, pliers, metal cutters to remove down pipes and to re-attach your new rain chain.
COPPER CHAINS AND VESSELS
This is a popular one, due to the beautiful oxidation that occurs when copper is exposed to the elements giving it a green patina. Use wire links or chain to create a string of little copper ‘buckets’, vessels or ornaments that the water will trickle and flow through. Make sure the bottom of each vessel has a hole in it to allow the water to flow through. Plant up the containers with small plants like succulents that don’t mind periods of low water.
Aluminium is a bright, silvery white metal that gets a stony texture when it oxidizes and can look pretty interesting. It is very soft and light metal and quite easy to cut yourself into different shapes. Combine it with heavier chain links or objects to give the chain some weight for windy conditions.
UPCYCLED METAL OBJECTS
Get really creative and visit your local flea market to find interesting metal objects that you can use in your rain chain. Think old vintage spoons, even metal teapots, tin cups, old keys or large picture hooks.
Plastic is a very versatile material for rain chains, but does have some drawbacks you need to be aware of. Sun ages plastic very quickly, and it will quickly become brittle and break if in a sunny spot. It also stretches quite easily when it becomes hot, so your chain should include some metal links to prevent this. But there are so many fun colours and plastic items you can upcycle for a rain chain such as plastic bottles which can be cut into all sorts of shapes like flowers or vessels.
Glass is a lovely material for a rain chain as the light catches it and on a sunny day it also looks so beautiful as a garden feature. Make sure you take extra safety precautions if you are cutting it yourself. Think about old wine bottle necks, collected sea-glass wrapped in wire, upcycled wine glasses and old pieces of mirror.
Different sea-shells and pieces of driftwood, terracotta pots or old pieces of broken ceramic plates, mosaiced pieces, pebbles and rocks, can all be used with wire to create beautiful rain chains that have a more natural and organic feeling.
Have a look at Pinterest to discover some amazing inspiration if you want to create your own. It can be a fun and relatively easy weekend project, as long as you gather all your materials and tools before you start.
Happy gardening! And rememember the Cape Town Flower Show is only a few weeks away! Get your tickets now and join Cape Contours at this great event.